Books Forward November 2021 Newsletter

Check out the latest newsletter featuring our award-winning authors and industry news. This issue features upcoming book releases, recent media coverage and much more!

Read the November 2021 newsletter here!

Three Ways the Pandemic Has Changed Book Publicity (For Good)

The Covid-19 pandemic has transformed industries across the world, and book publishing and promotion are no exception. When the U.S. government declared a national emergency in March 2020, our literary publicity team at Books Forward began to work through the rapid, sweeping changes that would define our lives and work until this moment (and for the foreseeable future).

We’ve seen plenty of changes in the book publishing and PR industry during our more than 20 years in business, always adapting to stay ahead of the trends. This time, we—as well as countless authors, booksellers, and publishers—have had to adapt like never before. In some ways, the publishing world will never be the same—and we are working hard to stay three steps ahead of the challenges, opportunities, and innovations the pandemic has presented.

Here are three ways the pandemic has changed the book industry, most likely for good:

Virtual events are here to stay.

We’ve known for a long time that book tours aren’t always the splashy money-makers they used to be. But the pandemic has simultaneously a). put the nail in the coffin of traditional book tours and b). resurrected book tours from the dead—still benefitting our beloved indie bookstores.

Virtual events have undeniable perks, not least of which is the fact that authors and audiences are no longer inhibited by physical distance to the store.

With facades shuttered to the public, many bookstores underwent a crash course in rapidly transitioning to virtual programming, from experimenting with various video chat and streaming platforms to finding fresh ways to reach audiences on social media. Virtual events have undeniable perks, not least of which is the fact that authors and audiences are no longer inhibited by physical distance to the store. In fact, bookstores reported significant increases in virtual attendance vs. in-person attendance. In August 2020, Third Place Books’ events manager, Sam Kaas, told our staff that their event attendance was higher than average (70-80 online, vs. 20 in-store), although sales were lower. Over time, Kaas said attendance “settled into a more normal pattern” and sales increased, with variation from event to event.

Françoise Brodsky, Director of Community Outreach and Events at Shakespeare & Co also confirmed sales have varied, but “participation has increased, because it is not linked geographically anymore.” Doloris Vest at Book No Further confirmed that although attendance fluctuates, their event pre-sales have been comparable to sales at in-store events.

All three stores confirmed that they intend to host virtual events long term and will most likely offer “hybrid” virtual/in-person programming into the future. At the start of the pandemic, Books Forward introduced a Virtual Learning Author Program that successfully connected our authors with homebound teachers, parents, librarians and booksellers in new ways. We feel confident and excited about the opportunities that virtual events present, and we are happy to digitally connect our authors with readers around the globe.

Audiobooks and ebooks are on the rise.

It should surprise no one that the demand for audiobooks and ebooks keeps growing. During the pandemic, downloadable book sales increased across retailers. According to Good E-Reader, in the U.S. during January to September 2020, ebooks sales increased by 15.8%, (with revenues for the children’s and YA genres in particular up by 69.7%). Downloadable audiobook sales increased by 15.0% during that time, finishing 2020 with an approximate 17.6% boost for the year as a whole.

Recognizing the need for downloadable books early on, our firm launched the #BooksForwardHelpline in March 2020 to help readers and authors support indie bookstores and libraries, troubleshoot their reading or listening devices, and connect with great new book recommendations.

This year we’re thrilled to launch specialized Audiobook Production and Promotion services to help our clients connect with ever-expanding audiences of readers in new ways, and get a share of what has become a billion-dollar industry.

Paying attention to the news cycle is more important than ever.

In the second quarter of 2020, Covid-19 dominated the headlines. Getting media attention for new book releases is always challenging in this competitive environment. Getting media attention during an unprecedented worldwide pandemic? We all remember the news cycle being 24/7 coronavirus.

But our authors never cease to amaze us with the variety of perspectives and stories they have, and our publicists were able to help our authors share constructive insights with the media during such an unprecedented time. Bryan E. Robinson, Ph.D., author of #Chill: Turn Off Your Job and Turn On Your Life, helped Forbes readers cope with pandemic anxiety (an article that has been viewed over 147,000 times). Professor Peter Ward explained the evolution of handwashing with Vox, based on his book The Clean Body: A Modern History. Novelist Christine Meade (The Way You Burn) shared a poignant personal story about her pregnancy fears during the pandemic with HuffPost. And gardening expert Monique Allen contributed to Good Housekeeping’s advice on isolation gardening and victory vegetables patches thanks to her book, Stop Landscaping, Start Lifescaping.

You never know when you can contribute in a meaningful and authentic way to a journalist’s story.

Now that a measure of “pandemic fatigue” has set in and the news cycle is more varied, our media outreach has become a bit more normalized. Nevertheless, we’re always working to stay on top of the rapidly changing headlines, and we would encourage all authors to do the same. You never know when you can contribute in a meaningful and authentic way to a journalist’s story.

Marissa DeCuir is the president and partner of Books Forward publicity and Books Fluent publishing. As a former journalist with stories published in USA Today, National Geographic and other major publications, she’s always looking for the best hooks to utilize in author publicity and book marketing. She values fostering the relationship between writer and reader in an organic way, and believes in taking a personal and strategic can-do approach to help authors reach their goals. Under the 21-year-old JKS Communications brand, Books Forward and Books Fluent are committed to elevating voices, breaking barriers and promoting books that empower, inspire and move the world forward.

This article originally appeared on Killer Nashville.

Books Forward October 2021 Newsletter

Check out the latest newsletter featuring our award-winning authors and industry news. This issue features upcoming book releases, recent media coverage and much more!

Read the October 2021 newsletter here!

How does a book publicity firm decide which authors to represent?

Many writers dream of publishing a book, but few realize that publishing is just the first step in a dynamic journey of getting your book in front of–and loved by–readers. Our book publicity firm Books Forward has represented more than 700 amazing authors during our 20 plus years in business, and a question I hear frequently is “How do you decide which authors you represent?”.

We are so lucky to hear from incredible authors every day interested in using our services. While we wish we could help everyone (seriously, I’d love to help every writer fulfill their biggest book dreams!), we have to be selective about the authors we represent for a number of reasons. And with thousands of books launching daily in the U.S. alone, I want to share our selection process with writers so they can make the smartest, best choices before querying publicists for representation.

Our team at Books Forward choose the authors we represent by asking ourselves the following questions:

First and foremost, are we excited about the book? As avid readers ourselves, we love great books, and we read a lot of them! Our team has diverse reading tastes, so we embrace a variety of genres and content, but across the board we are looking for books that pull us in and keep us hooked.

Do we see specific ways to promote this book to its target audience, and help it stand out among the competition? We want to help our authors reach as wide an audience as possible, but we also want to help them reach their specific target audiences–aka the readers who gravitate towards (and are engaged enough to buy) this specific type of literature. The better we understand a book’s target audience, the better we are able to help get that book into the hands of fans.

Does our team have experience in this genre? Can we bring our A-level expertise to this project? We always want to bring our best to every project. We’ve worked with all kinds of authors in almost every genre, and our publicists and digital strategists each specialize in different areas. We always consider if we are a strong match for a campaign, and if we’re not, we may refer authors to another firm. We’re always transparent about the best options for them and their books!

Will the author be a partner in publicity? We bring a vast amount of work and expertise to every campaign; however, publicity is a partnership. We are looking for authors who will be available for interviews, open to writing guest articles, active on social media and willing to promote the book to their own networks. We want our books to succeed, and author participation is essential for establishing a brand and a loyal readership.

Will the author have awesome goals, but also realistic expectations? After more than two decades in the publishing industry, we have seen (and continue to see!) publishing evolve constantly. The industry is more competitive than ever, and we seek to partner with authors who understand that the promotional tactics that worked even just 1-3 years ago may no longer be as effective. Our best clients are those who are open to trying promotional strategies that are innovative and out-of-the-box, as well as tried-and-tested publicity tactics.

Is there a budget in place for publicity and marketing? If they are indie publishing, are they willing to work with a book-specific editor and designer to get the book into the best shape possible? While we always seek to find promotional solutions that work within an author’s specific budget, quality publishing and promotion requires both time and money. A book is, in many ways, a product–and cutting corners reduces the quality of the product, as well as its ability to reach its target market. We look for authors willing to invest time and resources to publish and promote their book, so that together we can give each title its best chance of success.

And lastly, does this book help move the world forward? Here at Books Forward, we want to represent books that elevate voices from a diverse group of authors, break barriers in the publishing industry and convey a story that will resonate with readers. We’ve been fortunate to work with so many authors who are doing just that–and we are thrilled and grateful to continue representing incredible, innovative authors for years to come.

I hope this helps you on your journey to publishing and planning promotion for your book!

This post originally appeared on https://www.teenink.com/ in July 2021.

Marissa DeCuir is the president and partner of Books Forward publicity and Books Fluent publishing. As a former journalist, she’s always looking for the best hooks to utilize in author publicity and book marketing and believes in taking a personal and strategic can-do approach to help authors reach their goals.

Making the most of a festival appearance as an author

Attending a festival or book event as an author can seem intimidating, especially if it’s your first time. But it can be so much fun, and hugely helpful to your writing career! As things (maybe) start to be in-person again, here are some tips to help you make the most of your time.

Before the event

  • Connect with previous attendees: ask them what they enjoyed last year and if they will be there again this year.
  • See if the event has a list of people who will be there this year, and reach out to anyone you’re excited to meet and tell them just that. Try to set up a time to meet for coffee or something similar.
  • After registering, see if there is a panel or discussion you can take part in. If you don’t see one, email the organizer to let them know what you can speak on — it can’t hurt to try!
  • Look at the schedule of events ahead of time to plan your days. You will likely not be able to do everything, so you want to maximize your time.
  • Check the social media hashtag for the event and engage with fellow attendees.

During the event

  • Have an elevator pitch for your book. You are likely to meet a lot of people and not spend a ton of time with each of them, so you need to be able to sell yourself quickly.
  • Bring lots of business cards, bookmarks, postcards or other swag that people will hang on to! Networking is likely to be one of the most valuable things you can do at a book event.
  • Get contact info from people you meet or speak with, when appropriate, so you can follow up with them later!
  • Support your fellow authors — buy their books, join their mailing lists and talk with them! They’ll likely want to support you as well.
  • Share photos and videos from the event on your social media – allowing your readers to follow along with you!

After the event

  • Follow up with anyone you met with, thanking them for their time and referencing something specific you spoke about if possible. Make sure to have a link to your website in your signature, and encourage them to reach out if they have any questions about your book.
  • Post recap photos to social media – and tag the appropriate people, publishers, etc. in them.

Books Forward September 2021 Newsletter

Check out the latest newsletter featuring our award-winning authors and industry news. This issue features upcoming book releases, recent media coverage and much more!

Read the September 2021 newsletter here!

Eight bookish podcasts to check out on International Podcast Day!

Happy International Podcast Day! As readers, we don’t just read books — we also participate in tons of extracurricular activities involving books. We talk about books, join book clubs, look for great reviews, and writte as well.

One of the biggest ways we discuss books is through podcasts, and not only are there shows about specific books, but there are podcasts on books for your radar, book club podcasts, and even writing podcasts for authors. There’s a little bit for every reader and author on this list, so I hope you give one a listen.

All the Books at Book Riot

If you want to keep up with what’s new and cool in the bookish world, then All the Books from Book Riot is your go-to. With new episodes every week, the hosts share what’s new and trendy that’s being published. With expert recommendations, you’ll definitely keep abreast of what’s publishing at all times.

The Stacks Podcast

If you’re looking to join a book club without the stress of going to meetings, hearing expert author interviews, or discovering books you may not have heard before, then The Stacks Podcast may be the one for you. Offering everything you’d need to be as prolific a reader as you can be, the Stacks Podcast hosted by Traci Thomas has it all.

The Maris Review

If you’re a fan of listening to author interviews, then this is the podcast for you. Hosted by Maris Kreizman, the podcast features some incredible authors of today, includes exciting topics to discuss, and learning a little bit about the authors we all so love and adore.

Minorities in Publishing

Unlike the other podcasts on this list, Minorities in Publishing discusses the deeper and wider expanse of publishing. Specifically, it discusses the diversity (or lack thereof) in publishing, sharing interviews with publishing experts and authors and their experiences within the publishing industry.

Deadline City

Hosted by YA authors Zoraida Cordova and Dhonielle Clayton, get a look into the process of creating a book, expert author interviews, and learning what it’s like to be a popular writer! If you’re an author trying to get your book going, this podcast may give you the encouragement you need.

Beyond the Trope

If you’re a fan of SFF books, then this is the podcast for you. With interviews from today’s greatest SFF authors, you’ll not only find new books to read but completely unraptured by why these authors wrote these books. It’s a great way to dive deeper into the writing process, especially for those massive SFF worlds.

Black Chick Lit

If you’re looking for more diversity in your reading life, check out Black Chick Lit. This bi-monthly podcast covers not only books written by Black women, but also about Black women. Discussing some of the latest novels from BIPOC authors, these two intrepid hosts dive deep into the themes and stories that shape Black women’s narrative in modern literature.

Books and Boba

If you’re looking for a book club that focuses on the Asian American community and experience, look no further than to Books and Boba. With monthly book picks, author chats, and more, the hosts of Books and Boba covers all things coming out from Asian and Asian American authors. Find some great new reads, listen to some interesting author conversations and immerse yourself in the world of Asian American writing.

Which social media platform is best for promoting your book?

Social media can be your most powerful tool for getting your book in front of readers–but are you using the “right” platform to effectively reach your audience? We’ve broken down the most popular social media platforms to help you determine which offers the best social media promotion opportunities for your book. Find out which social media you should be using below!

Facebook
With 2.8 billion users worldwide, Facebook still dominates social media. However, the platform is not necessarily seeing the same level of engagement that it was a decade ago. The most active users on Facebook are still millennials ages 25-34, 18.8% of whom are male. Facebook is the best social media platform for growing a personality-based brand. No matter your genre, we recommend that all authors create an author Facebook page, and post at least once per week. The genres that will find the most success on this platform are personality-driven nonfiction including self-help, how-tos, business, and lifestyle brands. Romance and mystery/thriller authors will also find an engaged audience on Facebook.

YouTube
YouTube maintains 2.3 billion users worldwide, and is the second largest social media network. YouTube is also not what it was a decade ago. The popular video-viewing platform has been saturated by “content farms” churning out derivative videos to soak up as many views as possible from the algorithm, celebrity brands, and a select number of influencers who dominate the space. However, BookTube is alive and kicking, even though traditionally published A-listers still get top billing.

Genre fiction authors (romance, YA, fantasy, historical fiction, sci-fi, horror, and “book club bait” mainstream literary/women’s fiction) will have the most success in approaching BookTubers for reviews, unboxings, or book haul videos. If you’re an author who is considering starting your own YouTube channel, understand that (much like starting a successful podcast) it’s a long term endeavor with a high degree of investment and slow rate of return. You must be prepared to create consistent, weekly content that is related to, but not solely about, your book. True crime, supernatural, and paranormal authors may find success here, as (again) will personality-driven nonfiction authors who can create self-help, how-to, business, and lifestyle content.

Instagram
Of Instagram’s 1.4 billion users, the highest percentage are aged 25-34, followed closely by users who are aged 18-24. Because Instagram is a photo and video platform, highly visual, aesthetic, and/or informative content reign supreme. Personality-driven lifestyle authors will continue to find a receptive audience on Instagram, as will self-help, business, and how-to nonfiction authors. YA, historical fiction, romance, and mysteries also perform well on Instagram.

TikTok
With 732 million users, TikTok is one of the fastest growing social media platforms, with more than 50% of users under the age of 34 (the majority are teens). “BookTok” has already become a popular buzzword in the literary sphere. YA authors–fantasy in particular–will perform best on TikTok. Romance, historical fiction, and paranormal fiction will also thrive on BookTok. Nonfiction authors who specialize in true crime and “life hacks” can also find a dedicated following in this space. As with YouTube, be prepared to create regular short-form video content that does not always revolve around your book(s) in order to find success.

Pinterest
Pinterest has 478 million users. 77.1% of users are female, and 38% are 50-64 years old, with the 30-49 demographic coming in second place at 34%. Like Instagram, Pinterest is driven by images, so “aesthetic” genres like adult historical fiction, fantasy, and romance will draw attention. Lifestyle how-tos are also incredibly popular. Unlike Instagram, book discovery is more circumstantial rather than personality-driven, so we would recommend using Pinterest to promote your book if you are familiar with and actively engaged on the platform already.

Twitter
Twitter has 397 million users, 63.7% of whom are male. Twitter is the perfect platform for political, social commentary, historical, self-help, and business nonfiction. Content can be either topical or personality-driven. While any author in any genre can have a Twitter page, we would recommend using Twitter to promote your book if you are already familiar with and actively engaged on the platform.

 

Must-Have Elements On Your Author Website

Have you created an author website, only to realize you have no idea what you need to include on it? What is it that people want to know when they visit your website, other than what your book is about? Whether you have a well-designed website already or are planning ahead, this list should clarify what you really need.

Most Important Elements

Homepage: order links and book cover

When anyone visits to your website, it is important that they are immediately met with what is most important: the book cover for context, and order links. (Have you heard of burying the lede, or am I being a journalist?) People have very short attention spans, especially nowadays, so making it as easy as possible for anyone visiting your site to order your book is the best way to go. If your book isn’t out yet, that’s okay too, you can add preorder links. If you don’t have those yet, a body of text that says COMING SOON will do in the meantime!

We also usually recommend that authors give their readers multiple retailer options to order from. A link to your book on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Bookshop or Indiebound usually does the trick! That way people can order from their favorite indie bookstore.

It is also important to have your book cover front and center on your homepage so people know what they are ordering. If you are an author of multiple books, you can include your newest book on the homepage, with a tab on the website to all of your other books. You can also include a brief description of the book (25-100 words) on the homepage. I wouldn’t recommend a long description on the homepage, because again, short attention spans!

About page: author information

This is usually where visitors go to learn more information about the author: you! It makes the most sense to include your author headshot and your professional bio in this section. (Check out our blog post on the importance of headshots if you’d like more info!)

Your bio can be around 300 words, and are usually written in the third person. It’s okay to brag on yourself here, people are going to this section to learn about you, so let them learn!

This tab is also great for adding social media links. Whatever platforms you are on, even if you aren’t super active, I would recommend adding here. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, even TikTok if you have it, can go in this section! It’s always great for readers to be able to find you on social media, because they are more likely to keep up with you via those platforms rather than regularly visiting your website. If you aren’t active on social media, that’s okay (though I do recommend you create some accounts)!

Contact page: who are people contacting?

This is usually where we recommend our authors add our information, but if you don’t have a publicist, you can add whoever is fielding queries for you! Some authors add their agent here, their publisher’s information, or if you are handling all inquiries, you can add your contact info! The best form of contact here is email, or a contact form.

You can also add social media to this tab. Don’t be afraid to double up on information when it comes to where readers can find you. I know I keep saying it, but since people do have short attention spans, they may be coming to your website only to find your social media links. If they can’t find it quickly, they will probably give up. So put it everywhere!

Book page: all about your books

This is what we are all here for, right? The BOOKS. This tab is the perfect place to include your book cover with a longer description about your book, usually your back cover copy! If you have multiple books out, you can include them all on this tab, or have separate tabs for each book!

Other elements to consider

Blurbs: People like to see that other people like your book. So, if you have some great blurbs from other authors, or even just a really great quote you can take from a reader on NetGalley or Goodreads, put it on your website! I think it’s great to just sprinkle these all over your website, and definitely on your homepage so people can see right away that others are loving your book!

Newsletter: If you have an author newsletter that you send out, you can definitely include a sign up section in your About tab, or Contact tab!

Blog: Do you have a blog? This isn’t mandatory, but I know some authors have their own blog that they regularly write. If you have a blog, I would include a tab dedicated to your blog so it’s easy for readers to find and access! If your blog is on a separate website, I would definitely consider consolidating, but you can link to it in your About tab!

Media: If you already have some coverage coming in about your book, that’s great! You can also include that on your website so visitors can go to those links and read what people are saying about your book, or see where your book is being featured. Where on your website you include this information is up to you! You can include it in your About tab, your Books tab, or create an entirely new tab specifically for coverage you’ve received. It sort of depends on how much coverage you have!

As you can see, there is a lot of information to put on your website, but don’t be overwhelmed! It is most important to make sure people know what book you are promoting, how they can buy it, and where they can find you. So, if you’re new to this, start with that! The rest of these key elements will fall into place as you begin to craft your website, and make it your own!

Here is an example of a great author website our team created. If you need some help building your author website, you can contact us at: info@booksforward.com.

Links used: https://www.janefriedman.com/author-websites/

Books Forward August 2021 Newsletter

Check out the latest newsletter featuring our award-winning authors and industry news. This issue features upcoming book releases, recent media coverage and much more!

Read the August 2021 newsletter here!